A true and brave patriot (1980-2008)

Captain Sunil Kumar Chaudhary was born on 22 June 1980, to Lt. Col. P.L. Chaudhary and Satya Chaudhary at Shaheed Joginder Nagar, in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The eldest of three
brothers, he was educated in Kendriya Vidyalayas, and graduated from the Garware College of Commerce, Pune. He joined the MBA course at Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune. He was brilliant and hardworking, with a good personality. He won many prizes in sports, and represented junior nationals in swimming and diving. He excelled in football and boxing. He used to visit his younger brother, Ankur Chaudhary, undergoing training at the NDA (National Defence Academy) at Khadakvasla. During his visits to the NDA, he was inspired by the statue of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey who had been awarded the Param Vir Chakra. He dropped the MBA course and joined the IMA on 1 July 2003. He was commissioned on 10 December 2004, and moved to Kolkata. He had expressed a desire to join the 7/11 Gorkha Rifles, the regiment of Captain Pandey. He joined 7/11 Gorkha Rifles on 1 February 2005.

The unit moved to Tinsukhia District in May 2006 for counter-insurgency operations against the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). He was awarded the Sena Medal on 26 January 2008, for his courage and leadership in killing two ULFA militants in 2007.

On 27 January 2008, officers and men of his unit at the Army’s Kopahtoli Base in Tinsuhkia District were celebrating the award of Sena Medal to Chaudhary, when information was received at noon that four to five ULFA cadres had taken shelter in two houses at Rongagore, Borpathar. The militants included hardcore cadre, Joona Bhuyan, who was involved in many heinous crimes.

He led a team of three from the front to charge into the house, along with help from a similar team. As the army closed in, the militants took shelter in the dense Mechaki reserve forest, and a fierce gun battle ensued. He was the prime target as he had shot two militants a year ago. He was unsuccessfully attacked twice on earlier occasions. In spite of having received a volley in the chest, he continued to fight, and killed two militants, and wounded one.
Bhuyan managed to escape. Chaudhary was grievously injured, and airlifted to the Air Force Hospital at Roroiya, where he was declared dead. Captain Chaudhary died just 24 hours after he had received the Sena Medal for shooting two militants a year earlier. He was awarded the Kirti Chakra (KC, posthumous).

His grief stricken and proud Commanding Officer, Colonel Pramit Saxena, commented that he was an excel- lent and committed officer. 27 January will be remembered as a sad day for that day a brave and gallant officer died fighting. His body was moved to the Air Force station in a six-vehicle convoy. The body was received at the Jammu airport by his father Lt. Col. P.L. Chaudhary. The tricolour-draped body reached Govindsar village at night. Like the celebrations by his unit on 27 January, the family members were also celebrating the award of Sena Medal when news was received of his martyrdom. He was engaged to Monica, a lecturer in Jammu College, and the two were to be married on 9 March. The Commanding Officer’s wife had spoken to her that very morning to congratulate her. The Captain had already applied for leave.

The whole village came out to line the streets as the body was taken in an army vehicle to the sounds of mournful tunes played by the band. When Sunil was awarded the Sena Medal, he had asked his father, “Father, do I make you feel proud of me?” “He kept his promise of making me proud,” said Col. Chaudhary and broke down as the pyre was lit..

“And they who for their country die Shall fill an honored grave,
For glory lights the soldier’s tomb And beauty weeps the brave.”
– Joseph Rodman Brake

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)